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TPG reader Tracy sent me a message on Facebook to ask about booking hotels:

“Is there a way to use Ultimate Rewards points for a hotel that doesn’t show up on the Chase travel portal?”

I generally maximize my Ultimate Rewards points by transferring them to airline and hotel partners, but you can also get decent value by redeeming directly with Chase. Points are worth as much as 1.5 cents apiece toward travel when you book through the Ultimate Rewards portal, which offers an extensive selection of flights, hotels, rental cars and more. However, the portal has its limitations, and it helps to know what your options are when the travel provider you’re looking for isn’t listed.

In some cases, Chase lets you book award flights by phone even when your itinerary doesn’t show up on the Ultimate Rewards portal. However, that policy doesn’t extend to hotels, and you won’t be able to redeem points directly for properties that don’t show up on the website. That can be problematic if you’re headed somewhere with relatively few options, or if you’re interested in booking a specific hotel that isn’t offered.

You’ll find some surprising gaps in availability, like the area near the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. Chase doesn’t offer any hotels closer than Flagstaff, even though several major brands (like Best Western and Holiday Inn) have a presence in nearby Tusayan. That’s a disappointing lack of coverage for one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country. You’ll also find that some individual properties in other major destinations simply don’t show up, like the Ritz-Carlton Seoul.

If you’re determined to redeem Ultimate Rewards points in these cases, you still have one recourse. You can always pay with your Ultimate Rewards card and then redeem points for a statement credit after the fact. However, you only get 1 cent per point when you redeem this way, so you’d be leaving a lot of value on the table.

Old couple standing on Grand Canyon
Ultimate Rewards doesn’t offer hotels near the Grand Canyon. Image courtesy of Duncan George via Getty Images.

Instead, I’d recommend using fixed-value rewards like Barclaycard Arrival miles or Capital One Venture miles. Those are consistently worth 1 cent per point when you redeem for travel, so you’re not passing up better opportunities. If you don’t have those rewards on hand, and if there aren’t any good hotel transfer options, then your best best is probably to just pay cash and save your Chase points for another time.

For more on the Ultimate Rewards travel portal, check out these posts:

If you have any other questions, please tweet me @thepointsguy, message me on Facebook or send me an email at info@thepointsguy.com.

Featured image courtesy of the Ritz-Carlton Seoul.

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Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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